SAVANNAH, GA (June 21, 2006) -- Despite a bogey on number 18, Russell Henley of Macon fired a two-under 69 in the final round to capture the 41st annual Georgia Junior Championship, which took place at The Landings Club's Palmetto Course, June 19-21. Beuna Vista's Matt Nagy, the leader beginning the final round, landed his tee shot on 18 two inches out of bounds and holed out from 88-yards to score bogey and finish second. Thomasville's Harris English carded a final-round 70 to finish in sole possession of third place.
"I really scrambled around this week," Henley explained. "I hit the ball all over this course the past three days and I guess I just had a little luck at the end."
James White Jr. of Acworth shot three-over par to fall to fourth position. Augusta's Alex Boyd finished alone in fifth place at seven-over par for the championship. Brendan Gillins of Savannah and Sam Braver of Roswell placed in a tie for sixth. Four golfers - Alex Castro of Alpharetta, Atlanta's Alex Frankel, Augusta's Clark Palmer and Will Jones of Rome - all carded +14 for the championship (227) to tie for eighth.
Henley, who started the final round four strokes behind the leader, birdied his first two holes and carded par on each of the next seven holes to shoot 34 on the outward nine. After a par at number ten, he tallied two more birdies on numbers 11 and 12. Playing at a four-under clip through 13 holes, Henley scored a bogey-6 on the par-5, 14th hole.
Meanwhile, Nagy gave two strokes to the field after he bogeyed his first two holes of the day. He would collect birdies on number four and on the par-5 seventh hole to get back to even on the front nine. Pars on the next four holes allowed Henley to close the gap and the duo took to the 14th hole in a tie for the overall lead.
Henley put a bogey on his card at number 14 but Nagy carded bogeys at 15 and 17 to give Henley a one stroke advantage at the 18th tee. Henley pulled his tee shot off to the left and the ball came to rest two inches from the out of bounds line. Officials ruled the ball to be in play and Henley punched out and took a bogey on the hole to fall back into a tie for the lead.
"Last week I had a ball roll just barely out of bounds and it cost me the tournament," Henley remembered. "I guess this week I had a little extra luck on my side and it worked in my favor."
Nagy came to the tee at 18 knowing that he needed a par to force a playoff with Henley. However, like his fellow competitor, he pulled his tee shot left and it came to rest two inches past the out of bounds line. Nagy would end up having to hit a second tee shot, which he pushed right, then punched out to 88-yards. Pulling a wedge from his bag, Nagy landed his shot two feet past the hole and spun it in for a bogey and a second place finish.
"After I had to re-tee," Nagy said, "I knew that I had lost my shot at the title. I was just trying to not do anything crazy that would take me out of the top eight and a chance at the Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Match Team."
The top eight finishers in the Georgia Junior Championship represent the state in the 31st annual Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Match, which takes place at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, July 29-30. A playoff was held among the four players at 227 to determine the eighth team qualifier as well as first and second alternates. Jones won the eighth spot with a par on the third playoff hole. Castro was named the first alternate and Frankel became the second.
The par-71 layout of The Landings Club's Palmetto Course played to 6,831 yards. The field of 144 was cut to the low 70 and ties after 36 holes, with the cut line falling at 18-over 160 and 74 players advancing to Wednesday's final round.
Entries were open to male amateur golfers between the ages of 14-17 as of June 19, who are Georgia residents and GSGA members or dependants of GSGA members.
For complete results, click on the tournament link above.